I think we're always broken in hindsight. Not that that's a bad thing; it means we're always growing, always changing, always becoming a better version of ourselves. That we can look back and wish we'd done something different, or perhaps done it at all, is a good sign of our progression in life.
Which isn't to say it's not painful.
There are varying degrees of brokenness in perspective, all of which I wrestle with from time to time.
There are the things I wish I'd done at all, things I backed away from at the time for reasons I either can't remember or can no longer justify. These are the moments where a little voice whispers lies in your ears and you believe them. You can't. Or you shouldn't. Or maybe specifically, you shouldn't. It's dangerous. It's stupid. In hindsight, it might have just been fun. There are things in my life that if I had given myself to the moment, I would have had a good time. I would have learned a valuable lesson. I would have made a powerful memory. Now, all I've got is regret. If I knew then what I know now, I might just have gone for it. I might have tried some of these things. Yes, I may have failed, but I would have failed trying and that makes all the difference.
On the other hand, there are things I wish I'd not done at all, things where I probably knew better but did them anyway. In particular, though, the things I wish I hadn't done are things that were centered in self. Things that felt like the right thing to do for me, but they were damaging and painful to those around me. Why? Because I was not even considering others. Because I didn't care. At the time, I honestly didn't care. Thankfully, as I grow, it's hard for me to believe there was a time in my life where I got away with not caring about others, but it's true. I did. And here, I have regret, too. I am so, so sorry.
There are things I gave myself too strongly to, where I would have had a better experience if I wasn't trying to prove anything. If I could let a moment just be a moment instead of every one being a defining moment. Times in my life I was trying too hard, where my insecurities were screaming louder than my joy and I was swimming too hard against a current that wasn't that strong, but sure felt it. I wish I could go back and remember to breathe a little bit, to take in these moments for what they were and what they could be.
There are things I gave myself not strongly enough to, where I held myself back for one reason or another. Sometimes, it was because I was scared. Sometimes, it was because I felt unworthy. Sometimes, it was because a little voice in my head said I wasn't welcome. Sometimes....the list could go on and on. Here, too, these moments felt so often like defining moments when I wasn't ready to define myself, but in these cases, I tried to keep them from being moments at all because I wasn't sure how things would really speak into my life. Or how I could speak into them. Some of the moments in this category are times when I profoundly wondered what I was even doing, what I thought I was doing, why I thought I could do this. I wish I could go back and give myself more fully to these moments, dare to be spoken to. And dare to speak.
Some of these moments were almost three decades ago, others as near as three days. The irony is that even though I was broken in these moments, these were not all broken moments in themselves. Most of them gave me just what I needed at the time; they brought me to a moment like this one. I'm just varying degrees of ashamed and remorseful that I needed such things in the first place, and that I sacrificed coulda-been moments to get them.
Such is life, I suppose, but I'm working to change the pattern.
What can you do, you're asking? What can we do if we know we're broken, if we know all our moments will, in hindsight, look broken? Is there a way to escape our brokenness?
No, there's not. But there is a way to embrace it.
I am giving myself, broken, to the moments. I'm getting in touch with my depravity now so it doesn't haunt my memories. I'm admitting that life is a process, that growth is the goal. I'm owning that today, I am not who I want to be tomorrow and tomorrow, I will not be the person I want to be the day after that. I am choosing to recognize my limitations and my hesitations and decide whether those are worth the cost of my hopes and dreams. Or beyond that, my calling and my creation.
I am deciding to hear the little voice that whispers lies, to tell him he's a liar, and to go after it anyway. Not to miss another moment because I don't feel ready or it doesn't feel like mine. I am deciding to open my eyes and see more than my own depravity, noticing the dynamic in the world around me and choosing to respond to it with all that's in me to give. I'm deciding to remember to slow down and breathe, to live these moments and not conquer them all, to be present to what's going on so that one day, even if I'm broken, I can remember this. I am deciding to let some things speak into my life, even when it's scary, and to use my own voice to speak into the life around me.
I'm giving myself broken. Because really, it's all I've got.